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Future Proofing Tanker Design Against Evolving Emissions Regulations

tanker designs to meet future emissions regulations
Gagarin Prospect is the first Aframax tanker designed to run on LNG - image courtesy of HHI Group

Published Dec 18, 2020 6:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

With a range of new technologies all competing to meet the challenges to provide eco-friendly maritime solutions to achieve the goals of the IMO on emissions, shipowners are facing difficult decisions. A joint research project launched by the classification society DNV and shipbuilder HHI Group sought to future-proof tanker designs. In a recent "Green Tankers towards 2050" industry webinar, attended by more than 250 participants from shipping companies around the world, the results of research was presented explaining how shipowners and managers can cope with stricter environmental regulations now and in the future.   

“Shipowners are faced with many uncertainties in the rapidly changing marketplace,” said Seong-Yong Park, COO and SEVP of HHI Group. “We believe our research results, including proven engineering solutions and alternative fuels, will support them in developing their future strategy for ship operations and fleet renewal.”

During the webinar, DNV GL and HHI Group experts explained the recent development of regulations covering the greenhouse gas emissions from vessels, including the introduction of the design index for existing vessels (EEXI) and a new Carbon Intensity Indicator, which are due to enter into force in 2023. To respond to these regulations, HHI Group introduced their range of eco-friendly ships that are equipped with alternative fuel technologies and energy-reducing systems, among them 40 LNG dual-fueled ships already delivered or under construction.

“The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is strengthening environmental regulations, including a 50 percent reduction in ship greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to 2008,” commented H. J. Shin, Head of Future Ship Research Department at KSOE. “We will help the shipping industry to reach these ambitious goals by taking a leading position in the eco-friendly maritime era through research and development.”

By applying DNV GL’s data-based carbon robust model to its very large crude carrier (VLCC) and Medium Range (MR) tanker ships, HHI Group found that an LNG fuel propulsion system in combination with advanced energy saving devices (ESDs) can enable a vessel to meet the new Carbon Intensity Indicator over its expected lifetime.

“It is important to use alternative fuels like LNG and technological solutions that are available now, and not wait until 2030 or beyond”, stressed Y. H. Chung, Head of Initial Design Department at HMD. “Our joint research has shown that LNG as ship fuel combined with other energy saving devices can make a vessel both environmentally and economically fit for the next two decades at least,” said Chung.

“Since ESDs mainly have an impact on fuel consumption during sailing, the benefits are greater for large vessels such as VLCCs, which spend more days operating at sea,” explained Christos Chryssakis, Business Development Manager at DNV GL – Maritime. “These ships are also less sensitive to price variations when it comes to selection of LNG as fuel. This is because the capital expenditures are paid back faster due to a higher fuel consumption.” For smaller vessels with lower fuel consumption, such as MR Tankers, a higher price differential between very low sulphur oil (VLSFO) and LNG was required to pay back the initial investment. Therefore, these vessels were more sensitive to volatile fuel prices, he added.

“We have no clear vision of the zero-carbon ship in deep sea shipping yet,” said Trond Hodne, Senior Vice President Business Development at DNV GL - Maritime. “As we work hard towards the zero emission vessel, the industry also needs to make newbuilding decisions today. Thus, we should not make perfect the enemy of good. As demonstrated by HHI Group and our experts, we have energy efficient designs and technologies at hand that will enable ships to meet the IMO emission trajectories through their entire lifetime. These highly efficient vessels are likely to be attractive to charterers and investors today, and even more so if a price is put on CO2.”